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Vitamin D and Pain Control

Posted 08/08/2008

It wouldn’t surprise me if you deleted this newsletter, muttering “Not another Vitamin D article. I’ll just wait for the next healthy recipe instead.” But bear with me on this. Its conclusion surprised even me.

In a study performed at the Mayo Clinic, evaluating people who were using the opioid family of medications (Vicodin, Tylenol #3, OxyContin, Avinza) for chronic pain, researchers wanted to determine if vitamin D was somehow involved in pain control. They chose vitamin D because (as you’ve learned from these health tips) across the board, our levels of this important vitamin are generally much lower than doctors originally thought.

The patients had been referred to the Mayo pain rehabilitation center because they weren’t responding as well as expected to their medications. The most common diagnosis was chronic musculoskeletal pain (another name for fibromyalgia). Because vitamin D seems to be involved in far more important body functions than originally thought, the researchers measured everyone’s levels.

And what did they find? Across the board, patients with low vitamin D levels required almost twice the dose of opioid medicine to control their pain.

My recommendations, based on this research:

•    If you’re experiencing stress-related muscle aches and pain, try taking vitamin D 5,000 IU a day and see if your symptoms improve. This dose is harmless and will definitely get your blood levels into a solidly normal range.

•    If you’re a fibromyalgia patient using an opioid drug or Lyrica, add vitamin D 5,000 IU a day to your vitamin regimen. If your pain has been difficult to control, please get your vitamin D level measured as well.

•    Even if you’re not in pain, based on the current data your levels of vitamin D are probably low. If you don’t have time to stop by your doctor’s office to get it measured, take a minimum of 2,000 IU a day.

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